3 out of 4 stars
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Born to, and idolized by, Elizabeth Warren, James Warren, Jr. (J.W.) began life with an abundance of intellectual and athletic talent. Star athlete in his high school, J.W. planned to use a sports scholarship to earn a degree in engineering. Bored by the university level coursework, J.W. quit school to become a construction team supervisor. Due to J.W.'s stellar work ethic and keen management skills, not only did his team gain the reputation of "best team," but he and his crew became best friends. Until the day at the Cliff when the unthinkable happened, everything J.W. touched turned to gold.
Dreamwalking, by Stephen Lee Stith, is the story of one man endowed with all of heaven's natural gifts who experienced a sudden loss in all that he held dear. In one fell swoop, J.W. lost his physical abilities, his friends, his family, his girlfriend, his car, and his home. What would you do, if in your mid-twenties, you ended up in a dead-end nursing home? Thankfully for J.W., his new roommate became an unlikely mentor. Under the tutelage of Mr. Brown, J.W. discovered a renewed reason for living, stretched the intellect he had previously taken for granted, and even fought against corruption.
While reading Dreamwalking, I was reminded that often "truth is stranger than fiction." It is hard to make up a story like this. The author makes a note in the preface that this is a true accounting of James Walker, Jr.'s life. The telling of this incredible tale is well-done. In the opening, you meet several young men who seemingly have an unbreakable bond. When "the event" happens, you are taken through the emotions of all involved. Their reactions were not at all what I expected. Personally, I went through many emotions from amusement to anger, to hope, to more anger, and finally relief.
Thankfully, the characters, as real people, were drawn well. As would be consistent with life, some characters underwent a dramatic transformation while others showed their true colors. The author did a fine job of portraying this. I would caution a younger audience from reading, as there are sexual innuendos and difficult life situations. The language is not always clean, although I felt it accurately represented the characters and how they would talk. While overall, I felt the writing was right on target, there was one writing technique that rather bugged me. I realize it can be acceptable to include some fragment sentences; however, I felt there were too many. Additionally, I am not convinced that the book was professionally edited. There are missing commas in some complex sentences. I also feel that too many sentences start with words such as "Then..." or "But...." While this is technically acceptable, I felt that these are overused. I can forgive this in dialogue, but it should not spill into the overall narrative.
Overall, I would rate this 3 out of 4 stars. The writing style was fairly easy to read, the characters are believable, and there is an overall positive message. However, the abundance of fragment sentences as well as the doubtful editing prompt me to give this fewer than 4 stars.
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